Doctor Who: The Oseidon Adventure. Audio Book Review

oseidonTHE OSEIDON ADVENTURE by Alan Barnes

Big Finish, CD £10.99, download £8.99

Reviewed by Chris Limb

“Now there’s a face only a mother could love…”

Having been outwitted at the eleventh hour, the Doctor and Leela can only watch in horror as the Master’s scheme appears to succeed and his new allies – the Kraals – arrive through the wormhole to begin their invasion of Earth.

However, this turns out to be an uneasy alliance. Can the Master really trust Marshal Grinmal and the Second Kraal Army and can either of them trust their human ally, the “feeble minded reactionary” Colonel Spindleton? Things are not what they seem and when the Doctor is taken prisoner and locked up on the Krall’s home-planet Oseidon, it is up to Leela to take charge…

Following directly on from the cliff-hanger at the end of the previous audio adventure, Trail of the White Worm, The Oseidon Adventure feels more like the last two parts of a four part story, the change of gear and scene something common to the era of Doctor Who in which it is set.  Retaining the same central cast with the added threat of the Kraals allows Barnes to up the ante and leave the listener guessing right up until the end. Furthermore, the inclusion of three distinct camps on the villains’ side (counting Spindelton as having his own Rabid Right agenda) allows the Doctor and Leela to play them off against each other in a very satisfactory manner.

The decision to reuse the Kraals – one hit wonders from 1975’s The Android Invasion – seems odd at first but they do make perfect comedic villains for the Graham Williams era in which this story is nominally set and besides, their technological specialities established on TV provide this story with some of its more unexpected twists and turns.

The Master’s ultimate plan is once again very much within his familiar method of working, but such are the character’s strengths and Geoffrey Beevers’s performance that this doesn’t matter. As in Trail of the White Worm his interaction with Tom Baker’s Doctor is highly enjoyable, the humour with which it is injected a welcome contrast to the more sombre encounters between the Fourth Doctor and the Master on television. Louise Jameson puts in a fantastic performance as Leela takes charge, facing down enemies with both courage and passion.

This story brings the first “season” of Fourth Doctor adventures produced by Big Finish to a close. Given their quality the good news is that both a second (featuring the late Mary Tamm as Romana) and third season (once more featuring Louise Jameson as Leela) are on the way.